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Can You Fly A Drone Over Private Property? – Droneblog


You must follow drone laws and respect other people’s privacy, whether you have a drone job or are a hobbyist.

Can You Fly A Drone Over Private Property?

One frequently asked question about drones is if you can fly them over private property. Can you?

Whether you can fly a drone over private property depends on which state or region you want to operate in. You can do it in some places without filming, photographing, or hovering. At the same time, it is forbidden in other states, and you need owner approval or authorization in controlled airspace.

This guide will go in-depth and discuss flying a drone over private property. We have tips to share, including what to do if someone else flies a drone over your property.

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Why fly a drone over private property?

The reasons to fly a drone over private property are infinite.

Drones are small and don’t present a substantial threat to someone’s house or property, but they do come with privacy concerns.

That’s why we must first research the area we want to fly a drone and check if the country, state, or local drone laws allow us to do.

There are three core aspects to know if you intend to fly your drone over private property.

  • FAA or equivalent drone regulations: If you can fly a drone over private property, it doesn’t always mean you can fly it in that airspace. Ensure it’s not restricted airspace, and follow drone laws.
  • State or local drone laws: Although you can fly a drone across the US over private property, a few states, like California, may have additional drone laws that will not let you fly over private property.
  • Privacy concerns: In most places where you’re allowed by law to fly a drone above someone else’s property, you are not allowed to film, take pictures, or hover.

Flying a drone over private property in the US

According to FAA drone laws, you can legally fly a drone over private property if you don’t invade other people’s privacy, put people at risk, or damage property.

Note: Not all states allow you to fly a drone over private property.

In the US, the FAA does not have a specific regulation on the minimum distance you can fly a drone over private property as long as you’re flying within FAA guidelines.

Local drone laws may have the final word regarding flying a drone over private property.

Here is an overview of a few states and their laws on drone use over private property.

Alaska

According to the FAA, you can fly a drone over private property in Alaska without photographing or recording videos.

It’s also forbidden to hover your drone over someone’s private property, as you can be charged with trespassing.

California

In 2015, California passed a law outlawing flying your drone over private property. It counts as trespassing under California Penal Code Section 602 PC.

You must request permission from the property owner to fly a drone over private property in California.

This will include but not be limited to private fields, houses, buildings, and commercial properties.

This law was introduced mainly because many journalists and people fly drones above celebrity houses and invade their privacy.

Florida

Florida has no specific drone laws that forbid a drone from flying over private property.

However, you should know you cannot hover, photograph, or record another property without the owner’s consent.

The general FAA regulations apply if you want to pass over the property with your drone.

Hawaii

Who wouldn’t want to fly a drone in the beautiful state of Hawaii and capture incredible scenery with a drone?

In Hawaii, you can fly a drone over private property if you don’t record or photograph or be charged with trespassing.

Don’t fly and photograph with your drone at a resort or hotel unless you have consent from the owner or property manager.

Texas 

Texas has no specific laws against flying a drone over private property or in a neighborhood if you follow FAA guidelines.

However, if you fly a drone too low over private property, you can still be charged with nuisance or trespassing.

Also, you will break the law if you hover or photograph above another private property without consent. You can be charged with violation of privacy and trespassing.

Can you fly a drone at night over private property?

If you intend to fly a drone at night in the United States, you can do it if you follow these rules:

  • The drone must be registered with the FAA
  • The drone must have anti-collision lights installed
  • If you’re flying for commercial purposes, comply with FAA training and testing requirements
  • Fly your drone safely and within FAA guidelines

FAA specifies no drone laws about flying a drone at night above private property. 

Abide by FAA regulations regarding flying a drone at night and over private property as per the state you want to fly the drone.

Can I fly a drone in my own backyard?

Yes, you can fly a drone in your backyard if no regional restrictions apply to your area.

However, if you take off from your backyard and hover at higher altitudes, you may have to deal with accusations from your neighbors that you’re spying on them.

Sometimes, it can be dangerous to fly a drone in your backyard, as there could be little space to fly, and you can quickly crash it or send the drone to the neighbor’s backyard by mistake.

Can you fly an FPV drone in your backyard?

Flying an FPV drone in your backyard has the same rules as flying a standard drone.

Beware that FPV drones are more dangerous to fly, especially without experience. That’s why FPV microdrones are the most recommended to fly around in a tight space and even indoors.

» MORE: Can I Fly a Drone in My Backyard? (Read This First)

Can I report a drone flying over my property?

If you notice a drone flying above your property that acts strangely, such as hovering and photographing your property, feel free to report it.

  • If you feel threatened by the drone flying above your private property, call emergency services (911).
  • However, if this is a recurring issue, report it to FAA.

Remote IDs were introduced as a mandatory part of flying drones across the United States, so it’s easier for the FAA to identify the drone and take necessary actions.

However, not all drone pilots use drones for troublesome affairs. In fact, most pilots don’t.

If you notice a drone flying above your private property, remember that drones flying in suburban areas can rarely fly more than a single mile because of high interference levels.

Investigate the drone around its original takeoff point, but don’t challenge the pilot or do anything regrettable.

Collect footage of the drone and report it to the police if you believe they’re invading your privacy or photographing or recording you without consent.

» MORE: How Low Can You Fly a Drone Over Private Property?

Can delivery drones fly above my property?

In the United States, Part 135 air carrier certification applies for package delivery by drones.

From Amazon Prime Air to UPS Flight Forward, many companies nowadays cover drone delivery by air.

The UAS Beyond Program concentrates on challenges in UAS integration, flying beyond visual line of sight, and community engagement.

From a safety and privacy standpoint, delivery drones can legally fly above your house in the United States. 

The drones will hover and lower above your backyard only if you expect a package to be delivered by drone.

Interfering with drone delivery services (shooting/taking down the drone) will bring you legal prosecution, and you not only will have to pay the cost of damaged goods and hefty fines but likely will spend some time behind bars.

Can I inspect the roof of my house with a drone?

Yes, you can inspect the roof with a drone if local drone laws do not forbid you.

Ensure the drone is registered if required and you have a license to fly. Use the drone for inspections and do not fly away from your property area.

Most importantly, follow FAA guidelines and do not fly in restricted airspace.

» MORE: Best Drones for Roof Inspections (What to Look For)

Can I shoot a drone flying over my house?

Shooting down a drone is a federal crime per Title 18 US Code 32 of the 1984 Aircraft Sabotage Act, and you can face a few years in prison.

It’s always best to speak to the pilot first or call 911 than to take matters into your own hands.

» MORE: What Happens If You Shoot Down a Drone?

Can I jam a drone flying over my house?

You cannot jam a drone, as this action is a violation of the Communications Act of 1934.

Jamming a drone not only endangers the safe flight of a drone but can put others in harm’s way or damage property if the drone falls out of the sky.

You can be criminally prosecuted, pay fines to cover the drone costs, and spend time in prison.

Can I remove a flying drone above my property?

What about other methods of removing a drone flying above your private property? Maybe throwing a net on the drone or spraying water on it to take it down? Can you do it?

No, you cannot.

Interfering with a flying drone that is following FAA regulations by any means is highly illegal, and you can face criminal charges and spend years behind bars.

On top of that, damaging a drone that flies above your property means you will be held liable for damaging the drone, and you will have to pay for it.

Contact local authorities if you feel threatened by a drone flying above your property.

Did you know that in some countries like the United Kingdom, Netherlands, France, and a few others, eagles have been trained to remove drones from the sky?

Eagles are predatory birds and can surely take a smaller drone out of the sky if trained correctly.

However, this not only raises animal safety concerns, but the common law of taking drones out of the sky by any means necessary will be applied in the US, and you can face prosecution.

Can I fly a drone over someone’s private field?

Flying over a private field is the same as flying above private property. You should always ask for the owner’s permission to fly a drone there.

What about photographing a beautiful field of golden-yellow wheat? That indeed belongs to someone.

However, this is a legal gray area because an agricultural field is a private or commercial property, and you should not be able to legally photograph the field with your drone.

Can police fly a drone over your private property?

Police and emergency authorities have the right to fly a drone over your property without notice and permission from you.

If you’re under surveillance with a drone, the police must have a warrant to fly close to your property.

Emergency services can also use drones to assess an accident or a fire or to look for a missing person.

In this case, no warrant is needed for a drone to be used, even above your property, if it’s related to the safety of that missing person or others.

You should not interfere with a police or emergency services drone flying above or nearby your property, as you can face charges.

Moreover, if there’s an incident nearby, you are not allowed to fly a drone to avoid interfering with emergency services.

That’s why we should always be careful if we spot another drone near our properties and don’t assume the worst.

Generally, a police drone may have the body skin covered in police markings that can make them identifiable when flying nearby, but not from a distance.

What to do if someone calls the police on me for flying a drone

If someone spots a drone, they may call the police. Now the police have come for you. What should you do?

  • First, do not freak out. Have a calm, rational conversation with the authorities. Remember, they are there based on a concerned call.
  • Show them your drone registration and license to fly the drone.
  • Explain that you have flown the drone legally following FAA guidelines.
  • If requested, show the footage or photographs from your drone camera to ensure you haven’t taken photos of neighbors’ houses or flown directly above them without permission.
  • Most importantly, keep the flight logs and show them if requested, which may prove your innocence. 

Can you take a photo of someone’s backyard with a drone?

You shouldn’t unless you have the owner’s permission.

Otherwise, you can be prosecuted for trespassing and invading another’s person privacy. 

You can face a hefty fine and time behind bars.

What should I do if I crash my drone in someone’s backyard?

Contact the owner and explain what happened. Be humble and request to retrieve your drone if possible.

Adding compensation and offering to fix any property damages may sweeten the deal.

However, do not enter someone else’s property to retrieve the drone without permission, even your neighbor’s. That’s trespassing.

What should I do if someone crashes a drone in my backyard?

Now, this is a tricky situation. Take photos of the drone to assess the damage to the drone and/or your backyard, if any.

Do not to touch the drone. Wait for the pilot to approach you. Then show the damages to your property (if any) and request that they be fixed. 

If nobody shows up to your house to claim the drone, you can file a police report, and they take over from there. 

Remember, if the drone pilot approaches you aggressively, makes false accusations against you (e.g., “you destroyed my drone”), or intimidates you, call the local authorities immediately and do not let that person on the premises.

The police can come and assess the damage and have a chat with the drone pilot.

This should only come as a last resort if you’re facing a less pleasant individual.

Is someone spying on me with a drone?

If you’re in your backyard, having some fun, or just relaxing, and you spot a drone hovering at the house’s edge facing your way, perhaps you’re being spied on.

Don’t panic!

The best approach is to call local authorities right away. Watch the drone in the direction it leaves and track where it lands, if possible. This can help with a possible investigation.

Beware that throwing things at a drone hovering above your property and taking it down may lead to criminal charges for you, even if you’re the victim in this scenario.

Can you fly a drone above private property in controlled airspace?

You cannot fly a drone over someone’s property if you’re within five miles of an airport.

This no longer relates to privacy but to safety concerns associated with manned aircraft flying at lower altitudes.

You need consent from the control tower, and a custom unlock for a DJI drone to fly above private property near an airport. Otherwise, geofencing will come into play and restrict your drone from launching.

If you have an FPV drone or a drone without geofencing restrictions, be careful.

If you fly the drone, even in your backyard, you can still be charged.

Maybe your fingers are itchy from not pushing the throttle stick of a drone for a long time, and you cannot because you live so close to an airport. 

What can you do?

The best thing is to fly indoors, as FAA restriction does not apply.

However, drones with geofencing will still prohibit you from taking off, even indoors. You can always fly a microdrone indoors instead.

What to do if you want to fly a drone over private property

Here are a few checkpoints and approaches for flying a drone over private property:

  • Always follow FAA drone laws and ensure you have the right in your state to fly a drone over private property.
  • Where possible and if required, ask for the owner’s permission or least let them know your intentions.
  • Don’t fly your drone in a busy neighborhood. You will probably break a few drone laws in the process.
  • Never photograph, film, or hover a drone over someone’s property without their consent.
  • If you crash your drone on someone’s property, be humble and accept the possible consequences.
  • Always try to keep your distance from other people’s properties. You will want other pilots to do the same to you.
  • Do not fly recklessly, and be a responsible drone pilot.
  • Never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Respect other people’s privacy.

Can you fly a drone over private property in other parts of the world?

Although we mainly covered everything to know about flying drones above private property in the United States, what about the rest of the world?

  • In the United Kingdom, you must keep a minimum distance of 50 meters from private properties. You cannot fly above private property without the owner’s consent.
  • In Europe, according to EASA, you cannot fly a drone directly above private property unless you have the owner’s permission. Otherwise, you can be charged for trespassing.
  • In Australia, you cannot legally fly a drone over someone’s property or backyard without consent from the owner. 
  • According to CAANZ, in New Zealand, you can fly a drone over private property, land, or farm only with the owner’s consent.